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  • Centre scraps orange passport, continue with old last page

    Govt Of India Considering An Orange Indian Passport

    Photo Courtesy: Internet

    The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) decides to go against the decision of issuing an orange-colored passport for Emigration Check Required (ECR). It retains the idea of printing the last age.

    This decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affair on Monday, when in a statement,  the foreign ministry said it had been decided to continue with the current practice of printing the last page of the passport and not to issue a separate passport with an orange jacket.

    Presently the passports are issued in three different colors, wherein Government officers have been allotd white, diplomats allotted red and all other passports are blue in color.

    The Centre announced changes in the starting of this month; however, Minister of External Affair Sushma Swaraj reviewed the decision after a spate of protests and representations.

    The MEA stated that it had received many collective representations requesting to reconsider the decisions of not printing last page and orange ECR passport.

    On Monday, the Kerala High Court had issued a notice to the central government on a PIL challenging its decision to introduce orange-coloured passports for people requiring emigration check.

    In his plea, lawyer Shamsuddeen Karunagappally argued that such a move would lead to segregation of people with low education and low economic status.

    The MEA had said in a statement that the passport holders with ECR status would be issued a passport with orange-coloured jacket and those with non-ECR status would continue to get a blue passport,

    Emigration check is required for passport holders, not having education beyond the tenth standard, and having less than taxable income, who seek migration for employment, the petitioner said.

    The petitioner contended that the move would make their underprivileged status known publicly through separate colour code. It is a grave invasion of their fundamental right to privacy and dignity, he said.

    There is no rational objective to be achieved through this segregation. It is demeaning and shockingly violative of the principle of equality, the petitioner said.

    The move will create practical hardships to migrant workers, as the chances of harassment and exploitation will increase when their vulnerable status is made apparent on the passport through separate colour code, he alleged.

    The petitioner was also aggrieved by the government's decision to omit last page of the passport containing details including the holder's address.

    According to the MEA statement, the recommendations of a three-member panel, comprising officials from the MEA and the ministry of women and child development, were accepted and it was decided that the last page of the passport and other travel documents issued under the Passports Act, 1967 and Passport Rules, 1980 "would no longer be printed".

    (With agency inputs)

  • Hijacked oil tanker rescued after four days, no casualties

    Sushma Swaraj

    An oil tanker has been rescued which went missing with 22 Indians on board off the coast of Benin in West Africa on 1 February, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday.

    All the 22 crew members have been released safe by pirates after four days, the ship has resumed sailing, official said.

    "I am happy to inform that Merchant Ship Marine Express with 22 Indian nationals on board has been released," Swaraj tweeted.

    The External Affair Minister has also thanked government of Nigeria and Benin for their support in the matter.

    Swaraj had spoken to her Nigerian counterpart on Monday to seek assistance in tracing the missing oil tanker.

    The Indian mission in Abuja was in touch with Nigeria and Benin for help in locating the ship.

    "The ship, Marine Express, has been released and is back under the command of the captain," Director General of Shipping Malini Shankar told PTI in Mumbai.

    It was not immediately clear if any ransom was paid to secure the release of the vessel and the cargo.

    The Marine Express was anchored in Cotonou in the Gulf of Guinea in Benin when it was taken over by pirates on 1 February. All communication systems on the vessel were switched off by pirates before making it sail.

    In a Facebook post, ship manning agent Anglo Eastern said the Panama-flagged vessel was the victim of "pirate attack and seizure" and confirmed its safe release.

    (With agency inputs)